Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Birthday Cupcakes: Gluten and Dairy free!

Hello My Free-eaters! It has been so long and I feel so guilty! School does not wait for me to catch up and I had to keep up with Fall semester (which went well by the way!), but I am back! My birthday was last week and so was my niece's so we had a joint celebration at BJ's Restaurant. BJ's is a certified gluten-free restaurant and I am never afraid to eat there. On top of my allergies, my niece has dairy allergies so I took it upon to design some delicious dessert for our festivities. In addition, I got a new standing mixer (from my husband for Christmas--he knows the way to my heart!) that helped make these cupcakes in a snap!

I am a firm believer in "Keep Calm and have a Cupcake" so I made vanilla cupcakes with a pink birthday flair (my niece loves everything pink). These simple but delicious cupcakes were a hit with our whole nephew likes to always say "I can't tell its your organic stuff Auntie Mary!" that's how he encompasses all my baking and cooking because it would be absurd to name all the allergens I avoid! So, I thought I would share the recipe for these cupcakes and the frosting! This way all you free-eater can have a party for any gluten-free birthday! I got this recipe for Vanilla cake from You will notice I tweaked it a tad but its all the same ingredients. This is a magazine that has a lot of great recipes!

Birthday Cake Vanilla Cupcakes

3 1/2 cups of flour mix (I used 3 cups of sweet rice flour and 1/2 cup of oat flour)
1 Tablespoon of baking powder
*If you make your own baking powder like I do (1tsp baking soda/ 2 tsp cream of tartar) then that will be 1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of Xanthan gum 
1/2 teaspoon of salt
4 Organic eggs (apologies to egg free eaters because I have not mastered egg-free baking- look to my blog about chia gel to replace eggs) *eggs need to be at room temperature when baking cakes. If you are in a hurry run some tap water to  warm temperature and let sit while you
1 cup dairy free margarine (you can use shortening if necessary)
2 cups of sugar 
1 cup of soy milk or any dairy free alternative (I like to use the organic vanilla silk milk because the extra vanilla makes it even more birthday cake like) 
2 tsp of vanilla extract 

  • Preheat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. 
  • Beat (on medium-high speed) margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and vanilla. 
  • Using a whisk mix flour blend, baking powder and baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Incorporate this mixture slowly (half at first) to the wet mix. Then add the soy milk. Mix well. 
  • The batter should rise and be fluffy in the bowl. 
  • Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 20 min. The yield will be more than 24 cupcakes, but I ended up making a dozen mini cupcakes with the remaining batter.
note: I colored my frosting, but you do not have to because its delicious either way! IN addition, I did not full on over frost the cupcakes so if you are a frosting fiend (which some days I can be) you might need to use a whole stick of shortening and add 2 cups extra of powdered sugar. 

1/2 stick of shortening
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups of powdered sugar 
1 Tablespoon warm soy
  • Beat shortening with vanilla and powdered sugar; add the warm soy to make it smooth. Depending on what thickness you wish to have add 1 tablespoon of hot water at a time until desired thickness is achieved. (I ended up adding only 1 extra tablespoon of hot water because I wanted to be able to decorate so it needed to be a tad thicker)
  • color if desired.

In the end all my family members commented on how delicate and not too sweet ("just right!" was what they said!) these cupcakes tasted. I even left some unfrosted to eat plain! These cupcakes are a frazzle-free recipe and so delectable for your gluten-free experience! This recipe is simple baking just with the easiest gluten-free substitutions that it can make a new to gluten-free baker (and eater) happy! No non-sense just from scratch baking is my favorite kind of baking! 
Enjoy your January and keep eating "free"! 
More to come,

Monday, October 1, 2012

"Dirty Dozen" Link
Here's the list they give: (on the WebMD site they also give you the clean 15)

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (domestic)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens 

Give Your Produce a Bath!

Happy Monday Free-Eaters!
It was a busy last week for me, but I am ready to bring more interesting info to you all today!! As you know, Fall is upon us, and therefore the return of my Fall Favorite, the Honey Crisp Apple has occurred! Now, it isn't always easy to find Organic Honey Crisp, so I decided to try soaking them in apple cider vinegar to remove residual pesticides and toxins! It was amazing to see what seeped out of the apples after only 15 minutes in their kind of stinky bath! As a test I also soaked an organic Gala apple simultaneously. White residue was on the outside of the non-organic apples (which I happily scrubbed away) and my little organic gala showed no change whatsoever! Super neat to see!

So, to do this soak you add 1/4 cup of vinegar (I used gluten free apple cider vinegar that I had on hand) to a sink full of water and soak for at least 15 minutes. I would soak apples for longer seeing that they are subjected to the most pesticides and other harmful toxins and top the list of foods found with the most pesticides. I will attach a link that list the other "dirty dozen" foods. While I recommend still buying organic for the most sensitive of us Free-Eaters, this vinegar bath is a good trick to just clean produce in general. It removes harmful pesticides and dirt, but also, due to its acidic nature, kills a lot of bacteria that can be lurking on the outside of your produce in a safe to consume manner. A large number of people get sick from bacteria on the outside of produce that doesn't get rinsed throughly and can be transferred form slicing into fruits and veggies or consuming them with skin on. Remember, this vinegar bath will not help with GMO produce because its insecticidal and pesticidal nature is genetically embedded in the produce not sprayed on.

Hopefully, this simple method can help you all eat free of worry about germs! Keep eating freely and enjoy fruits and veggies freely ;)
More to Come,
Mary :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Back to School!

A very long overdue "Hello!" to everyone,
I have some catching up to do! Sorry for such a long period between posts. The summer has now ended (even though where I live it's just now starting to get gross hot) and I am back to school. I am a college student taking way over full-time amount of units and my schedule can become pretty hectic. Therefore, I decided to make an essential Allergy-Free Back-to-School guide! Now some of the advice I am putting on the list sounds straight forward and pointless, but some people are new to the game of allergy-free eating and this list is for them especially. You never know what you forget to think about!
The Essential Allergy-free Back-to-school guide:
1. Have a Personal Medical ID bracelet, pendent, card in your wallet, you name it.
As long as your have something to alert emergency personnel that you have severe allergies in case of anaphylaxis! I had a whole blog on the importance of Medical Identification bracelets, but I forgot to mention it can be  a necklace or even a card or luggage style tag on your backpack. A medical card and luggage style tag are especially helpful with younger Allergy-free eaters. Little ones (and big ones) can forget things in an emergency situation, even more so when the emergency involves them! This leads me to my next point...
2. Notify teachers/professors of your allergies.
I am 22 years old and I still notify each new professor at the beginning of semester that I have severe food allergies and Asthma that can require use of an Epi-pen. I let them know that I can inject myself unless I pass out or am unconscious, and I give them a run down of how to use the Epi-pen just in case I ever couldn't do it as a precaution. Always inform them to call 911 after any administration of an Epi-pen because they may not understand that it isn't a permanent solution and the reaction can happen again after the medicine wears off. I tell at least two of my peers too. This is just in case someone is absent during a class day if you have to have help, and at least you now have 3 people who can help you in an emergency. Most teachers at the elementary school level have some sort of first aid response training, but it is still best to discuss your child's allergies and emergency treatment plan. You never know what snacks are offered to your child at school and it's best that teachers know to not allow your child consume something without checking for allergens first. This ties together with point 3....
3. Allergy-Free lunches and snacks are a must have.
Especially in elementary school and preschool, you want to make sure to play an active roll in your child's lunch. Cafeteria food isn't going to be guaranteed safe, nor are class snacks; therefore, make a lunch everyday for your child and send him/her to snack day with a nice allergy-free snack to share! If your child's allergies are so severe, like nut allergies, that they can be triggered by simple exposure, then politely ask the teacher to notify other parents (either by a note or letter) not to send their children to school with snacks to share that have nuts or any severe allergens specific to your child. It sounds like asking a lot, but your child's life is more important than allowing Nutter Butters in the classroom. For college, I have to pack an array of snacks in my lunch for the longer days of classes. It isn't worth stressing about finding anything to eat on campus when you can bring an arsenal of safe snacks! I constantly keep non-perishable snacks in my backpack or purse, just in case I forget my lunch or snacks for the day. I am comforted by the idea of the Tasty brand Organic fruit snacks hiding in my bag at all times.


4. Make Shopping Lists.
I say this because it simply makes life easier for the busy college student or the parent of a chid with allergies. This point ties into the packing lunches and snacks that are allergy-free point, but it also helps to make sure dinner isn't a mystery during the busy weekdays. Planning your weekly meals is still a learning experience for me and my husband, but many websites offer meal calendar ideas or even a set meal schedule to make your life easier. A great resource for meal ideas is a quick look-over at Pinterest boards. I know that there are so many quick and simple recipes that can be found, and you can create your own meal planner and shopping list according to the recipes you find! Making meals that can create leftovers is a great way for college students to have lunch for the next day. I also recommend Vega nutritional shakes which make both a great on-the-go and satisfying breakfast or lunch. Vega is vegan and gluten-free and you an add anything to them to boost flavor and make them heartier. My favorite is the Vega One nutritional shakes in chocolate, to which I add a banana, frozen strawberries, unsweetened almond or soy milk, and a tablespoon of almond butter (or sunflower butter for those with nut allergies). In addition, the digestive enzymes in Vega also keep my belly happy and regulated.
5. Lastly, embrace the fact that you have to be careful with what you eat.
Don't be shy about your allergies around friends and peers. No matter what age, by being open and knowing what you can and can't eat keeps you in control of your health. Also, you never know if someone else has allergies too! You can eat lunches together or bring snacks to share! Don't think that having food allergies limits you. You can be an advocate of learning more about food allergies and sensitivities through your own personal experience!

Good Luck with the Fall Semester and back to school chaos! Have fun and be Free of worry and free of stress by being in control of what you eat! Below is the website for VEGA.

More to come,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Check the sticker!!!

Good afternoon Free-eater!
It's been a long time since my last post and I am excited about this one today! A great friend of mine sent me a text about produce codes and it is great information! So, what does the sticker with the PLU number on your veggies and fruit mean? Let's get to know our PLU codes because they can tell you if something is organic, conventionally grown, or genetically modified.


  • Let's start with Organic (my favorite code!): A 5 Digit code that starts with the number 9 means that the produce was Organically grown. (YAY!!!)
  • Next, conventionally grown (yucky pesticides and toxins were used to grow these): A 4 Digit code that starts with either the number 3 or 4 indicates produce that was conventionally grown. (BOO!)
  • Lastly, Genetically modified (my very least favorite): A 5 Digit code starting with the number 8 indicates a Genetically modified crop. This is a little harder to be aware of because PLU numbers are not required to indicate genetically modified, therefore they can label a genetically modified item as "conventionally grown". 
To help you shop "Free" of GMOs, I am attaching a website that not only gives you more information on how to shop "Non-GMO", but it also gives you lists of products that are GMO-free! There is also an app from this website that you can download on to your IPhone! What a convenient way to double check while you are already shopping! The best way to avoid GMOs when you don't have a way to double check is to buy items that are "certified organic". Avoiding items that are the top genetically modified crops is also a good way to "Free" your shopping list from GMOs. This list includes: corn, soy, canola, cotton seed, sugar beets, zucchini, yellow squash, and papaya. Look for items that are "The Non-GMO Project" certified (pictured below). Silk milk is one of my favorite Non-GMO certified products! Please take a look at their website because some of the items you are already buying might be enrolled in their certification program and some of them may not!
I hope that this post helps clear up some confusion about produce PLU codes, but most of all I hope it gives you some resources to help you shop safely and "free" of nasty toxins and genetically modified foods. Shop smart and eat "Free"!

More to Come, 
Mary :)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Recipe for Corn-Free Baking Powder

Hey Free-Eaters!
I don't know about everyone else, but I find it difficult to find baking powder that doesn't contain corn starch! I know they make aluminum-free baking powder and non-GMO corn starch containing baking powder, but that doesn't help those with corn allergies. So, instead of having to search everywhere or order it online, I found a way to make it!

First, let me explain the difference between using baking powder and baking soda...
I don't know if very many people know that you cannot substitute baking soda for baking powder, but you can substitute baking powder for baking soda (I know I, myself, did not know this at first!!)!! I figured, that they both are leavening agents right?!? Yes, they are both leavening agents but the chemistry of how each one of interacts with the ingredients in the recipe you are using is different. Baking soda is just sodium bicarbonate nothing more, while baking powder is a combination of baking soda, cream of tartar, and corn starch. The cream of tartar acts as an acidifying agent to the baking soda, causing the reaction that releases the carbon dioxide gas bubbles in your baked item. This is what makes whatever you are baking rise. Some baking powders are single action, meaning after you mix it in you must bake the item right away, and some are double acting where it has a reaction of rising twice, once when mixed in and then the second time when it is heated. Therefore, you can use baking powder instead of baking soda in a recipe calling for baking soda because it simple aids in the action of rising, whereas, baking soda lacks the extra kick. My best example is this: you can use baking soda in a chocolate chip cookie recipe because cookies don't require a great deal of rising, but if you are making blueberry muffins, baking powder must be used to make them fluffy and not deflated.

Now, to make corn and aluminum free baking powder at home, you simply use baking soda and cream of tartar. The cream of tartar, as I stated before, is the acidifying agent; it comes from the fermentation process in winemaking. Combine 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar. If you aren't going to use this right away then add a 1 teaspoon of tapioca starch as a drying agent to keep out any moisture. This altogether makes 1 tablespoon of baking powder (or 4 teaspoons). Once you mix your baking powder with your wet ingredients you must bake the item soon after because the reaction that produces carbon dioxide gas begins when the combined baking soda and cream of tartar are moistened. In addition to this, make sure all your dry ingredients are mixed throughly with the baking powder before you add the wet ingredients.

Keep on "Free"ing up your baking!
More to come,
Bobs Red Mill 19580 Baking Soda Gluten Free

Saturday, July 28, 2012


During the summer I make peach cobbler because it's my husband's favorite and it's when peaches are super delicious and in season. Today I made a fresh Gluten Free Peach Cobbler and I thought I would share my recipe with you all! This is a recipe originally given to me by my Oma (Grandma). I have tweaked it quite a bit but it still makes a delicious cobbler like hers!

Oma's Peach Cobbler
(Gluten Free Mary Version)

3 cups Peaches (about 5-6 whole peaches cut up)
1 cup of sugar (half of it for the crust and the other half for the peaches) 
1 Tbsp cinnamon
4oz. cream cheese (for dairy free use something like Tofutti...this is not a corn free brand though! I use regular organic cream cheese)
1/2 cup of All-puroose Gluten Free Flour (I use Bob's Redmill)
1/4 tsp baking soda (make sure no corn starch added for corn allergic)
1/4 tsp Xanthan Gum (Also a Bob's Product)
1 stick butter/margarine (something that's a buttery spread dairy-free is fine, just not shortening)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla 

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For this cobbler you can use a pie dish or even a square eight inch dish. Just as long as you have about eight inches to work with! Dice peaches up and place in dish. Combine 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 Tbsp of cinnamon, our over peaches and mix together with a spoon. Set this aside for now. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and Xanthan Gum. The dry ingredient will be combined with the wet ingredients. In a larger mixing bowl, cream the cream cheese, butter/margarine, vanilla extract, and egg. Cream into a smooth mixture, then add the dry ingredients and mix. Pour this batter over the peaches and cover evenly. Don't worry if there are some peaches peaking through because the batter will rise and cover the peaches while baking. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-40 min, or until top and edges are a golden brown.

Enjoy this delicious recipe. If it doesn't come out beautiful remember that it takes awhile to get the hang of Gluten Free baking. Also, cobbler isn't perfect, it is meant to be scooped up not sliced so it can be messy :)  Try topping it off with dairy free Truwhip! So YUMMY!

More to Come,
Mary :)

Bobs Red Mill 19549 Baking Flour Gluten Free